Archive for ◊ April, 2016 ◊

Author:
• Friday, April 01st, 2016

Encore Post

We all love those adorable little tykes in church. Those sweet little angels who:

• kick the back of your chair throughout the service
• cry, shout, talk, whine and scream
• leave a dozen times to go the bathroom
• turn the program into paper airplanes
• poke, stab, punch, tickle or otherwise irritate their siblings
• climb under their chairs
• scribble in the hymnals or Bibles
• get a weird sticky substance on your best outfit
• are so noisy you can’t hear the sermon
• totally destroy the service for you

BTW – we’re not talking just toddlers, some pre teens and teens can be just as disruptive.

There was once a commercial for Life Saver candy in which a boisterous child in church was given a hard candy – and sat quietly for the rest of the service. It should be so simple.

I had children in church – and now grandchildren. Hey – I’ve been there and done that. I know it’s not easy. My gang certainly did not qualify for any halos. I know the mortification of having an older person in the next pew turn and glare at me – or loudly “shush” my child. Not to digress, but honestly, sometimes the person who is saying “shush” can be more disruptive than the noisy child. But we won’t go there.

So what does a church family do when the “family” part of worship service is acting out and ruining the service for others?

Well I don’t profess to be any kind of expert on this, but here are some random suggestions.

• First of all – do not elect to skip church or leave the child home, while you go to church. Children should have the worship experience and opting out is not a solution.
• At my church, many years ago, they instituted the “puzzle pamphlet” for the kids. It was a four page booklet with games, word searches and so on. I remember being somewhat horrified thinking that inappropriate church behavior was being rewarded with a game book. But, in fact, it worked pretty well. The kids were entertained – and quiet, yet they were there.
A little side story to this is that following one service in which the children were doing puzzles, I asked one of the kids if he knew what the minister had said. And – by gosh – he quoted back to me the sermon lesson of the day! His focus was on the piece of paper, but he was actually listening!
• I’m a strong believer that if children are being disruptive, they should be removed from the service – for a short period of time. Not a big scene – nothing embarrassing. But as a courtesy to those who are there for a religious experience, it’s only fair to take the child out for a few minutes. A change of environment for a child – a redirection – can make a huge difference. But always come back. Don’t reward bad behavior by taking the child to a Sunday School room and letting him play.
• Every church has a different Worship Service versus Sunday School set up. At my church, the children are in worship until the passing of the peace (about a quarter of the way into the time) and then go to Sunday School This is good because they get to participate in some group worship – then go to their own classes. However, that doesn’t work for all denominations.
• And finally, I believe it’s up to the parent to talk to the child before the service and explain what it’s all about. What is church, why are people there, why is that man or woman standing at the front talking, what is the music about. Hey, I know – that conversation provides no guarantee about behavior, but a least it gives your child a context for what is happening.

And if all else fails, there’s always that roll of Life Savers.